An amah (zh-stp|s=阿嬷|t=阿嬤|p=āmā, Portuguese: "ama",German: "Amme",
Medieval Latin: "amma" ; or ayah Hindi:āyā, Portuguese:"aia", Latin:"avia") is a girlor womanemployed by a family to clean, look after children, etc. It is a domestic servantrole that combines functions of maidand nanny.
This word is particularly common in
East Asiaand India(ayah, though, is a more common variant in India). Since the mid-1990s, it has become more politically correctto call such a person a "helper" rather than a maid or ayah. In Taiwanand Northern China, ayah may even refer to any old lady in general.
"Amah" is also the
Mosuoterm for mother, and is used in this way in Yang Erche Namu's memoir [http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000E8LQM4 "Leaving Mother Lake"] . The word "ammah" or "anmah" means "mother," and "ayah" has an identical meaning in Okinawan dialect. See Ryukyu Islandfor more information about Okinawa.
"Ayah" in English literature
Like many other terms other languages, "amah" and "ayah" have been adopted as
loanwordsinto the English language:
:"She never remembered seeing familiarly anything but the dark faces of her "Ayah" and the other native servants, and as they always obeyed her and gave her her own way in everything, because the Mem Sahib [her mother] would be angry if she was disturbed by her crying, by the time she was six years old she was as tyrannical and selfish a little pig as ever lived.":*"
The Secret Garden", by Frances Hodgson Burnett
:"When Tony and his sister arrived they wanted to go straight to the pond, but their "ayah" said they must take a sharp walk first, and as she said this she glanced at the time-board to see when the Gardens closed that night." :*"
The Little White Bird", by J.M. Barrie, author of " Peter Pan"
;"Amah" in Thai languages,is mother
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